In 1888 the Honorable Walter Woods Johnston, a Member of Parliament for the Manawatu for 13 years, bought 1000 acres of land in Manawatu. The estate was named after the Sussex estate of Johnston’s wife's father, Sir Charles Forster Goring, 7th Baronet of Highden. The house was built in 1898, and, as far as can be ascertained an east wing and conservatory was added in 1903. Highden stayed in the Johnston family until 1922, when it was divided into two lots. The homestead block of 222 acres, with the house, farm buildings and a stand of native bush, retained the name Highden and was purchased for use as a Novitiate House by the Marist Fathers in 1923. During this time a chapel and accommodation block was built (since rebuilt). The Marist Fathers retained Highden until 1990 when it was bought by Ken and Mary Dalziell and became a family home and function centre. It was sold in 2000 to a Dr Humelgaarden for use as a Shambala learning centre and again in 2003 for use as The School Down Under, an alternative school founded by Kent Fergusson. The school ran for about 3 years after which it remained vacant until bought by Avril Druker and Andrew Michaels in 2008. It is once again run as a function centre.